DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Waterworld, Blu-ray (1995/2009)

Waterworld ties in well with the current emphasis on global warming, since its doomsday event was caused by all the ice caps melting and the entire surface of the earth being covered by the seas.

Published on October 23, 2009

Waterworld, Blu-ray (1995/2009)

Waterworld, Blu-ray (1995/2009)

Starring: Kevin Costner, Dennis Hopper, Jeanne Tripplehorn
Studio: Universal 61110659 [Release date: 10/27/09]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 color 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French, French Canadian, German, Castillian Spanish, LA Spanish, Italian, Japanese DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, French Canadian, C. Spanish, LA Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Greek, Traditional Mandarin
Extras: Theatrical trailer
Length: 2 hours 16 minutes
Rating: ****

Another post-apocalyptic sci-fi feature.  This one got some bad reviews originally but actually is worth watching – not as bad as Costner’s The Postman. Waterworld ties in well with the current emphasis on global warming, since its doomsday event was caused by all the ice caps melting and the entire surface of the earth being covered by the seas.  The few remaining survivors live a primitive and gritty life on floating islands they have fashioned from debris found floating on the ocean.  Drifters on sailboats out on the ocean are only allowed into the floating “atolls” if they have something to trade – such as dirt, food or plants. The survivors and drifters are all continuously threatened by both the Slavers and Smokers. There is more on the former in the extended cut of the film (not included here) but the Smokers are very much in evidence as the chief villains. They are really pirates, so-called because of all their jetskis and watercraft with gas engines – they even have an airplane – and a rapidly-diminishing supply of crude oil aboard a derelict tanker (later identified as the Exon Valdez!) which they refine into gas.  Their goal in the film is to find the remaining land, whose location is encoded in a map tattooed on the back of the young Enola on one of the atolls. Their leader is the fierce Deacon, playing to the hilt by Dennis Hopper. The co-writer of the screenplay revealed that he was inspired by Mel Gibson in Mad Max 2, and that’s quite obvious in Waterworld. (I even had the same big question in mind thru both films: Where is this endless supply of gas in a post-apocalyptic world that they have available to run all their powerful vehicles?)

Costner plays the unnamed anti-hero of the film, the Mariner. He sails the earth on his trimaran and is a mutant, having developed gills and webbed feet. He gets needed items and trinkets for his boat by diving deep down to the cities at the bottom of the ocean. When he visits the atoll to trade, he is suspected a spy for the Smokers and condemned to die.  Helen, the adult protector of Enola, rescues him and they escape on his trimaran as the Smokers launch a huge attack on the atoll.  The rest of the film is a constant struggle to stay alive on the ocean with continuing attacks from the Smokers trying to kidnap Enola. At first the Mariner wants to throw Enola overboard and prefers his solitude to having Helen and the girl aboard. But slowly the relationship improves, with the Mariner finally rescuing the child from the clutches of the Smokers. Hopper makes a great villain, but is he really needed?  There’s plenty of other life-threatening things to deal with in the world of Waterworld.  Do the good guys ever find land?  I don’t think I would be a spoiler to say Yes.

The cinematography, especially the underwater shots, is excellent, and the surround soundtrack is full of high-dB battle sounds for all the conflicts between the Smokers and their victims, as well as when the Mariner blows up the tanker near the end of the film. With all the extra storage on Blu-rays, I was surprised there were no bonus documentaries of any sort with the film.

 - John Sunier




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